Finding Frederick Law Olmsted in Cotton’s Kingdom with Sara Zewde | Free Virtual Program | Thursday, January 26

January 26, 2023 7:00 pm EST

Join architect Sara Zewde for this live virtual program as she shares her recent research on the impact of Frederick Law Olmsted’s journeys through the Slave States on his practice of landscape architecture. Between 1852 and 1857, while living at Staten Island’s Tosomock Farm, Olmsted traveled extensively through the South, writing about slavery and the slave economy, as a correspondent for the New York Times, and also published a series of collected volumes, including his highly influential 1861 work, Journeys and Explorations in the Cotton Kingdom.

Sara Zewde is founding principal of Studio Zewde, a design firm in New York City practicing landscape architecture, urbanism, and public art. The studio is devoted to creating enduring places where people belong. Named to the AD100 and an Emerging Voice by the Architectural League of New York, the firm is lauded for its design methodology syncing culture, ecology, and craft. In parallel with practice, Sara serves as Assistant Professor of Practice at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Sara was named the 2014 National Olmsted Scholar by the Landscape Architecture Foundation, a 2016 Artist-in-Residence at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, and a 2020 United States Artists Fellow. Sara holds a master’s of landscape architecture from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, a master’s of city planning from MIT, and a BA in sociology and statistics from Boston University.

This program is presented by the Friends of Olmsted-Beil House with support from Turnstile Tours.

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Frederick Law Olmsted: Designer of America & His Staten Island Roots | Episode 279

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Join historian and filmmaker Laurence Cotton (originator of and consulting producer to the PBS special Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America) as he shares the remarkable life and career of the Renaissance-man Olmsted—writer, philosopher, social reformer, advocate for the preservation of natural scenery, and creator of some of the most beautiful public and private parks and gardens in all of North America. Mr. Cotton will include a focus on Olmsted’s life on Staten Island and his time at Tosomock Farm.

This program is presented by the Friends of Olmsted-Beil House with support from Turnstile Tours.

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Virtual Inside Industry at the Brooklyn Navy Yard for Open House New York | Episode 278

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More than 50 Brooklyn Navy Yard tenants welcomed the public on Open House New York Weekend, with manufacturers, artists, designers, and eateries hosting tours and open studios. We again hosted a series of virtual tours on the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Instagram Live @bklynnavyyard, featuring woodworking school Bien Hecho Academy, artist Nina Summer, non-profit Little Essentials, green builder Urbanstrong, and fashion designer Courtney Washington.

Watch on the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Instagram IGTV.

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The Tideshift Project: Session 3 | Episode 277

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The Waterfront Museum presents the final session of The Tideshift Project, featuring stories of waterfront workers from the pre-containerization era and people working in today’s final mile shipping industry. Tideshift is a three-part series of oral history collecting events presented live, virtually, and in person aboard the 1914 Lehigh Valley Railroad No. 79 wooden lighterage barge moored at 290 Conover St in Red Hook, Brooklyn. In this series of events, The Waterfront Museum has recorded stories from waterfront workers who have handled freight in and near Red Hook, and from their descendants. In this episode, we were joined by waterfront veterans Geof Gaertner and Gaetano Pennisi, who both worked from the 1960s through the 1980s on docks in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey during the transition from breakbulk to containerized cargo.

The Tideshift Project was funded in part by Humanities New York with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Boxed in Brooklyn: Robert Gair and the Packaging Revolution | Episode 276

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In 1879, Scottish-born businessman Robert Gair stumbled upon an invention that would transform packaging and consumer products forever: a fast, mechanized way to manufacture cardboard boxes. This invention would grow into an empire of paper mills, box factories, printing plants, and even marketing and advertising arm—a vertically-integrated packaging company, based in today’s DUMBO, Brooklyn. This virtual program will look at how, a century ago, this present-day corner of the “Brooklyn Tech Triangle” was also a center of innovation for packaged food and household products.

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Barge Family Reunion Celebration: The Tideshift Project, Session 2 | Episode 274

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The Waterfront Museum presents the Barge Family Reunion Celebration, stories and images from people who have lived and worked aboard barges and their families. This is the second part of The Tideshift Project, a three-part series of oral history collecting events presented live, virtually, and in person aboard the 1914 Lehigh Valley Railroad No. 79 wooden lighterage barge moored at 290 Conover St in Red Hook, Brooklyn. In this series of events, The Waterfront Museum will record stories from waterfront workers who have handled freight in and near Red Hook and from their descendants. The Tideshift Project was funded in part by Humanities New York with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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May Day: Labor History of the Brooklyn Navy Yard | Episode 272

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Waterfront workers were at the vanguard of the labor movement; the word “strike” has its origins in work stoppages on the London docks in 1768, when sailors “struck” the sails of ships to keep them in port. In New York, skilled shipworkers organized some of the earliest trade associations, and they agitated for steady wages and reduced working hours as far back as the 1820s. At the Brooklyn Navy Yard, federal regulations and political patronage often stifled workers’ ability to strike, but by the time of World War II, the massive workforce of the Yard was heavily unionized, and the good-paying jobs would form the backbone of Brooklyn’s middle class. In this virtual program, we will examine the long history of labor organizing at the Yard, how workers fought for their rights in the absence of formal unions, and how the unions ultimately proved powerless against changing politics and economics of the shipbuilding industry in New York.

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(Re)connecting Brooklyn’s History: Brooklyn’s Homefront during World War II with Brooklyn Public Library

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The history and legacy of the Second World War can be seen all around us in Brooklyn. Once home to hundreds of factories, shipyards, and warehouses, and responsible for sending millions of service members off to the front lines, Brooklyn was arguably one of the most important communities in waging and winning the war. Using locations from communities across Brooklyn—including famous sites like the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Brooklyn Army Terminal, and lesser-known sites that help tell stories about labor, housing, and culture—as well as primary source documents and oral histories, this program will help illuminate Brooklynites’ experience of World War II.

The (Re)connecting Brooklyn’s History series brings the fascinating work of historians to an audience of students and educators through online presentations and resources for sustained engagement with local history topics.

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Celebrate Black History and Industry at the Brooklyn Navy Yard | Episode 263

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To celebrate the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s 221st birthday, which takes place during Black History Month, we’re looking at the past and present of Black trailblazers and innovators at the Yard. Join this panel discussion as we examine the vital role played by Black sailors and shipworkers since 1801, and how the Yard has been an engine for economic empowerment since it became a city-owned industrial park in 1969. We will be joined by entrepreneurs, artists, and craftspeople in the Yard today, as well as staff from the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation. Special guests will include Kyiesha Kelly of Hip Hop Closet and Gina Riley of Rebel Designs.

Brooklyn Navy Yard logo

This program is presented in partnership with the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation.

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A Staten Island Farmer’s Travels Abroad with Justin Martin | Episode 260

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Join the Friends of Olmsted-Beil House for a fascinating presentation by Justin Martin, author of Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted. Justin will highlight Olmsted’s travels to England while he lived at Tosomock Farm on Staten Island, and his subsequent writings about these travels. Olmsted departed from Staten Island for a walking tour of England in April 1850, returned in October, and both wrote (1851) and published (1852) his observations in Walks and Talks of an American farmer in England while on Staten Island. Justin will discuss how these travels influenced Olmsted’s social thinking and landscape designs.

This program is offered in partnership with the Friends of the Olmsted-Beil House as part of the ongoing celebrations for Frederick Law Olmsted’s 200th birthday year, Olmsted 200.

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